Highlights: Eventually “paddled” into Rio!
Lowlights: Strong currents and tidal rips in the river of January
Launch: Ugly big dumper
Landing: Yacht Club jetty
Loc: Rio de Janeiro
Acc: Rafael and Catarinas apartment
Dist: 45,7 km
Start: 8:55 End: 19:45
Flavia picked me up early to drive me to the Yacht Club, where Roberta and Ze took over the job to bring me back to my last landing spot 45 km before Rio. Thanks very much! Driving took unfortunately double the distance to get there, due to the river and lagoons.
When we got out of the car on the beach, I instantly saw still waves splashing over the first ledge. I better go and have a check first! The sea hight was fore casted similar to the day when I was arriving with under a meter, but it has been south wind all the days, on my arrival day it was north east offshore already for some days. I was watching the dumper for a while, but there were lulls long enough and low enough to be able to get out. The wash distance was the problem. I just need to get close enough to the water line, and as I am having an unloaded kayak today it should be working.
Eventually I was still happy that Ze was holding my stern for a while while I was holding the cockpit and bow side to wait for the right time to push in and to jump on and in. That is much easier in the power of the still strong wash and back surge when the kayak stays straight, held by two people. I got a moderate amount of water inside the cockpit, but when it was time to push out and run I got caught only by a small wave. All ok out there on the calm outer sea, I pumped out, took my helmet and PFD off, washed the inside of my socks and shoes from the sand, pulled in the skeg launching string in and was ready for a long boring paddle along the steep beach first. Many fisher men were holding their rods into the water, before I hit the first rocky headland.
The rocky mountains coming up now until the bay entrance of Rio were high, steep and completely washed smooth, showing the continuous power of the sea which was basically low today. How must it have been looking here on Saturday and Sunday? I entered the bay through a gap of the small Ilha de Menina, which had already some strong counter current. I sent Flavia an e-mail where I was, and that I had only 10 km left and would arrive in 2 to 2 1/2 hours. But maybe I should have thought about “Rio” de Janeiro means it is a RIVER I am entering? It would get a bit later…
But first I had an amazing encounter in the bay upfront the two long public beaches with a trusting friendly sea turtle jumping on my front deck…just see the pictures!
Though wide, the current between the next island Ilha de Veado was also strong, and I had to sneak close to the rocks, with a side wind full on, leaving the last safe public beach behind. From now on it was all military area to my right, stated clear with some scrawly half washed away white letters painted here and there on the rocks . These graffiti show clearly the status which the Navy has here in Brazil…anywhere else in South America, there would have been clean pretty white signs. But amazingly I also saw the first huge Brazilian Navy ship just entering the bay on the other side.
The water here on this side was a stinky dirty mess of trash and thousands of dead fish. I was fighting my way up the wide river between another two small rocky islands past the first big round fort with two old canons. Rio was and probably still is well guarded! I headed up close to the main headland with another fort, when I had eventually to cross over the main current to the Sugar Cone. A big fishing boat came down stream with some unusual speed…there must be some current going out! It was ebb tide, full moon and has been raining a lot…not really great conditions to make me getting INTO the river! And the moderate wind blew against all this current whipping up some funky waves.
I let pass the fishing boat, and started my crossing in a ferry glide mode. I was wondering where I would be ending up? It was eventually not too bad, you can best see it on my GPS track. Still, when I was on the other side I was rather at the level of the Sugar Cone than on the last headland. To enter the safe bay with all the other boats, I had to paddle upstream for a while in the more or less existing eddy. This was leading to the last headland past another old fort, but which I think was pretty alive today! No tourists allowed here, but I was very sure that in the first eight fort windows eight special forces soldiers were sitting with pointed machine guns aiming out to the sea…not really a great welcoming at gun point! Actually pretty scary. You can see the picture and zoom in. But I could pass without being shot…paddling past the strong current and tidal race of the last head land, eventually reaching the calm bay with all the anchored smaller ships and boats.
Just in calm water with no current, five yellow kayaks were heading up to me, and I was happy about my welcome, also because I was already an hour later than announced. But nothing, my happy smile and raising my paddle went into the air, as those guys were not expecting me at all and paddled past somehow. Just the last one said:” Are you the woman paddling around south America? There is a lady waiting for you at the beach!” Very enthusiastic paddlers…I already had my doubts about the all the same looking kayaks, it must have been just a tourist tour. Amazingly, they were heading right into the tidal race and current…
But quite soon, I saw two other kayaks coming up to me, it was Flavia and two of her paddling friends, eventually quite happy to see me with such a delay! We were paddling slowly through all the many anchoring different size of boats, and had fun to pass a big catamaran underneath a few times. It got already dark, but the many city lights was making this city bay ideal for a late night after work paddle! Still there were continuously big planes flying over the bay from the near by airport, and Christo was well lit standing on his mountain tip watching over the city. Maybe I will get a ride up there tomorrow.
It was raining heavily when we were due to go for dimmer, I was entering Flavia’s car through calf high water on my street. Rio’s canalization is overloaded at those times… coming back, it was gone again.